Hi, actually, for this discussion a better example can be given. Think of "CRAFTSMAN" tools: "Warranteed forever." Get a replacement at any time if not 100% satisfied. No receipt required. The brand word “Craftsman” stamped on the tool is sufficient.
Actually, that is a terrible example to use as an analogy for software/IP. The Craftsman tool is a physical item. You cannot "make copies" of it. There is no way to "crack" it so that more than one person can use the product simultaneously. And you certainly can't get it off a torrent. The car analogies are just as flawed. In the U.S., a PC game is Intellectual Property, while cars and tools and other physical objects are not. You can say that the CD-ROM is a physical item, but then you are only talking about the disc, not any information contained on it, which is IP. If the CD-ROM is physically damaged/defective, you are entitled to a replacement that will work (i.e.: allows you access to the IP encoded on the disc in accordance with the license agreement). I think much of the emotional response comes from people unknowingly conflating one type of property law with another, which can cause things to seem unfair or unbalanced to those not versed in the differences.
The number of times the serial numbers change hands is IRRELAVENT to the number of requests for service to the product. It costs no more to service the product no matter how many times the product changed physical possession from one person to another.
You miss a major point here, because you are looking at GalCiv2 as if it were a socket wrench or an automobile. It is IP -- it is entertainment. Consider a movie theatre that sells tickets for $10. After the movie starts, say half the seats are still empty. Well, it won't cost the theatre a dime to let people in for free to fill up the empty seats, will it? Why should they force people who don't want to spend $10 to stand outside instead of letting them in at least up to the number of empty seats? What kind of greedy, draconian policy is that?
From Stardock's perspective, if you buy GalCiv2, play it, beat it, then uninstall it and sell it to someone else, they have essentially lost a sale (assuming the person who buys it second-hand wanted to play it, which is a fair assumption). Notice that there is no piracy or theft involved here, since the original owner has uninstalled the game, yet the loss is just as real as if you paid for a ticket to get into the theatre, then opened the rear door from the inside to let your friend in. Your friend is only taking up an empty seat anyway, so his free view of the movie does not hurt anyone else's experience of the movie. And hey, since you bought the full price ticket, it's only fair that your buddy offset some of your cost by paying you a bit for letting him in, right? And when your friend gives you $5, they certainly feel entitled to something for their money, even if the theatre was not involved in that private transaction. (Yes, this is illegal in a movie theatre. Then again, Stardock does not allow resale of GalCiv2 in their EULA, yet clearly many people are reselling it anyway, so here we are.)
You can complain that those empty seats are just collecting dust, that it doesn't cost the business any extra to present the show with those seats filled as opposed to being left void, that they got their money from the half that paid anyway, and it's bad for the environment to regulate the temperature of a large room only half-filled... establishing a moral obligation for the theatre to let some people in for free. Of course, if that were to happen, then those who paid full price for their tickets would feel rather silly, and next time they would try to be in the "lucky" group that didn't have to pay full price. The theatre's business is in real jeopardy when people start to realize that they can just split the cost with a friend instead of buying their own ticket. And it spirals out of control when people go from being willing to sneak into a theatre to feeling entitled
to do so. (Empty seats! The bastards!)
The small amount of time (i.e. labor cost) to do the change will be much more than offset by the goodwill it will generate because goodwill usually translates into future purchases (read: future revenue $$$) not only by that person, but by others who hear of the product and the “good service” associated with it.
The goodwill generated by the generous movie theatre above would be considerable. They would have packed houses every night! But the movie-going public would not benefit when the theatre goes out of business. If a significant proportion of their customers started "sharing" their ticket access with their friends so that the net result is a sharp drop in ticket sales, even as the audience grows, then the theatre will surely fail. (They could try to survive the new policy by doubling the price of each ticket, but this move would undoubtedly alienate many customers, resulting in even greater revenue loss.)
In any event, the lack of "good service" you are complaining about is to those who choose not to buy their own ticket, but to pick up a used one for less money -- money that Stardock never saw. (And still, they are allowed to install and play the game anyway, just not get updates beyond 1.1) As it is now, Stardock has an exemplary customer service record and tremendous goodwill from all their customers who buy tickets.
Like most here, I applaud Stardock for eschewing DRM on the CD-ROMs and just keeping their rein on the Registration Code. This is very friendly to end-users, since StarForce, SecuROM, SafeDisc, et al, treat all
customers as if they were criminals by default, relieve you of your Fair Use backup rights, and can even cause intractable problems with your PC. The actual (and only) problem with Stardock's policy, IMHO, is that their exists a legitimate PC game aftermarket, catered to by such businesses as Half.com, Amazon Marketplaces, eBay, and many others. Since this second-hand business is (often) legal as well as pervasive, I am most concerned that a law-abiding individual does not know about the resale policy on GalCiv2, and will unwittingly be scammed by unscrupulous or careless resellers more easily with this title than with other titles. It seems a real shame that many people buy a second-hand copy of this game in good faith, only to discover the registration restrictions after they come to this site and read this thread. That is seriously unfortunate. To my mind, the way to deal with that is full, obvious disclosure -- not buried in the EULA, but displayed prominently on the box and
the CD-ROMs (as they are often separated) and
accompanied by concerted efforts to get the word out to any and all who do business in second-hand software that GalCiv2 cannot be updated unless purchased NEW.
That is the only part of this affair that could use some fine-tuning: mitigating the chances of buyers taken completely by surprise by Stardock's resale policy.